T&T soldiers move into Petrotrin as strike nears

(Trinidad Guardian) Soldiers have moved into state-owned Petrotrin and set up base two days ahead of an impending strike action. At around 2 pm yesterday, about 15 soldiers went through the main gates to the petroleum company at Pointe-a-Pierre and set up operations at the hostel of the Augustus Long Hospital. This development drew angry responses from members of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) who up to yesterday morning were engaged in talks with company officials.

President general of the union, Ancel Roget, accused the State of using “strong-armed tactics” against Petrotrin workers. “The last time we checked we didn’t know soldiers were capable of producing oil or capable of working on the compression plants, or working in refinery to ensure that we have oil production to make finished products. Let us see how that works,” he said.

He warned that the Government “will fall flat on its face because fuel supplies to the public will be greatly affected once strike begins.” On Tuesday, Roget told Petrotrin workers the union would not be responsible for the safety of anyone who broke the picketline. He called on the Petrotrin police not to “go beyond their designated duties” by suppressing workers. However, a senior company source said more than a month ago NP trained soldiers and Coast Guard officers to fill and distribute fuel. The source said the soldiers would be deployed to ensure the safety and protection of any worker who wanted to break the picketline and report for duty if strike action began from 10 am on Saturday.

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